East Coast, West Coast Start-up Stereotypes

Shortly after I left Argyle, I emailed several professional friends and colleagues to share the news and to start having conversations about the next thing.  Most of the recipients were local, east coast friends.  A fair portion were west coast - either San Francisco or Silicon Valley.

The (overly-generalized) responses followed a theme:

East Coast:

  • Are you OK? -Lots of people
  • OMG - I can't imagine Argyle without you.  -CEO of SaaS start-up
  • I'm sure it must be hard to leave your baby.  -VP at SaaS company

West Coast

  • Congrats!  -CEO of marketing software start-up
  • I'm jealous that you get to move on to something new!  -CEO of SaaS start-up
  • Gotcha - call me later!  -CEO of SaaS start-up

The responses illustrated cultural stereotypes that I recently discussed with a west coast friend.  

Valley/San Francisco start-up people are transients - they bounce from thing to thing, companies come and go, people change jobs very frequently, everyone is searching for the big win.  The quick change game is so deeply embedded in the culture that no one is loyal to anything and people often abandon ideas too quickly in search of the next shiny object.

Small-market east cost start-up people - like in Durham, NC - take a more traditional view.  Fewer fundraising options and less experienced, more conservative investors leads to more bootstrapped companies, which leads to more early stage revenue.  So there are more very small successes that somehow manage to limp along or very small successes that never graduate from weekend/part-time hobby.  Entrepreneurs hang on longer, sometimes longer than they should.

These are obviously extreme stereotypes - the vast majority of people in the game fall somewhere in the middle.  But I suspect that you might be able to think of examples of each extreme...